Have you heard of the ‘suspended coffee‘ or ‘le café suspendu‘ as they say in french (or caffé sospeso in italian where it originally comes from)?
It’s a solidary concept, a warm anonymous act of charity. The idea is simple: you order and pay two coffees but drink only one of them. The other one you leave for somebody who can not afford it. So if later during the day somebody stranded enters the bar and asks if there’s a coffee suspended he can get served the prepaid coffee.
It’s an italian tradition that exports into the whole world.
Great, right? And so simple.
‘The tradition of the caffè sospeso began in the working-class cafés of Naples, where someone who had experienced good luck would order a sospeso, paying the price of two coffees but receiving and consuming only one. A poor person enquiring later whether there was a sospeso available would then be served a coffee for free.’
Sometimes it doesn’t have to be much, right? So go and get yourself a coffee, make it two.
This week is Maxou’s first week at the crêche (french for daycare facility for children). And as a mother and an architect I’m quite interested in the facility itself from a personal and an architectural point of view, of course.
So when I started to apply for a place in the crêches in our neighborhood I passed by every crêche in order to have at least a glimpse at it from the outside. Having grown up in a little town in the country of German you can only be disappointed though. Most of the facilities in Paris are setup on the first floor of general apartment or office buildings. An inner court is quite a luxe (I’m not even talking about a real garden) and even daylight can be quite meager as the buildings around are high and the streets narrow. So I was quite happy when we got a place at a crêche that is an independent building with a little inner court where the children can play when ever they want. (And which is only 5 minutes walk from ourplace!) I still can’t believe it.
And though I feel very grateful I still couldn’t help but feel kind of envious when I saw this architectural report about children facilities around the world. So I wanted to share.
This is a kindergarten in Tokyo by the architects duo Tezuka Architects.
I love the fact that you can walkon the roof!
The following is also a project by Tezuka Architects in Tokyo and is called “Around a tree“. It’s definitely my favorite. The whole building has been designed around an old twisted zelkova tree. Some rooms are high and some are just a small as a little child, some closed and some are completely open. There seems to be no boundary between the internal and the external.
Photos: Katsuhisa Kida
This one called Traumbaum is a project in Berlin by the architects Baupiloten.
Photos: Jan Bitter
… and this is Tukusi Nursery School in Hiroshima by UID Architects, a peanut-shaped building with large curved walls and large windows and a beautiful garden.
Photos: Hiroshi Ueda
Who wouldn’t be jealous? They’re great, right?!
Photo above: Doisneau
Probably 30 (of) the most abandoned places in the world – that look truly beautiful- though also kind of scary, some at least. Especially n°29, the hotel in Colombia – just like the haunted house, right? Or that sunken yacht..
I think these three are my favorites, though they all look amazing! Right?
Kolmanskop, Namib desert
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
NYTimes Roy Wood
Breathtaking! In the category of places to go this one is definitely on the top of the list. This article by Christopher Solomon in the NY times the other day gave me une nostalgie du voyage.. far far away.
Due to its remote location and difficult weather Aniakchak is one of the least visited national parks. 19 visitors last year! Compared to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with almost 9.7 million it makes this place quite a deserted island. The Preserve is situated on the Alaska Peninsula which makes it not accessible by road but only by floatplane or by boat.
Considering vacation (and I’m not talking about weekend trips to foreign cities) you can call us loners. The more isolated the home we rent the happier we are.
There is something about those lonely places. Certainly nature alone makes it a magnificent spot already but I think, the loneliness, the void of humans accounts a lot for its beauty. And then, it’s like Solomon says, we -or at least some of us, need this remoteness from time to time to ‘zoom out’ – how I like to call it.. to emerge our tangled life with all its bits and pieces and see the WHOLE, the whole from a different perspective.
“..We need this kind of remoteness more than ever. Today we brush elbows on a crowded planet. We fight traffic. We hunker in offices. We marinate in what the late David Foster Wallace called Total Noise. Maybe for you, too, this modern life overwhelms. If you’re like me, only getting far away from all that allows you to shake off the dross. Out there, the world shrinks until all that remains are “the rock-bottom facts of axe and wood and fire and frying pans,” as John Graves wrote. …
…We spend our days trying to be big. In the middle of nowhere, though, we can surrender to smallness again and instead find where we fit in the landscape. Out there, where there’s nothing, is where there’s the most to learn.”
MATTER INC is an industrial design and consulting studio that is all about “Design for Social Change”. One of their products is this birdsoap designed by Tippy Tippens. Its profits benefit the cleanup efforts related to BP’s oil spill disaster.
“Each black, bird shaped soap contains a white, ceramic bird, handmade from Louisiana Clay, which remains as a keepsake once the outer soap has washed away.
Through the daily act of washing, you will eventually free the clean, white, ceramic birds inside – potent symbols of restoration and recovery. The soap is shaped to be cradled in your hand and is a powerful representation of all creatures affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster. ..”
This one definitely is.
It’s been hunting me since a couple of days since it came up at dinner the other night and it left me so…so shocked and mute and so so sad that I had to share.
You probably know it. It was taken 1994 by Kevin Carter and got him the Pulitzer Price..and a lot of critique. It depicts the famine in Sudan showing a little girl struggling on her way towards a foodcamp of the United Nations and the vulture waiting behind her… It’s so heart wrenching that it moves me to tears every time I look at it. Our world is so unjust!
I know that the picture caused a lot of controversy so I’m not going to debate about Carters attitude when he took it, because it’s is not clear, nobody seems to know for sure how he really behaved at the given moment. The statements are contradictory. I know it’s hard to imagine to witness a situation like this and decide to take his camera and shoot a picture – after all ‘it’s his job’, one would say and this picture was maybe a wake-up-call for millions of unknowing people like us – ‘There’s a limit’ others would say. ‘Did he do anything to help?’… What is the right position here? It’s hard.. But I do hope he didn’t just stay deedless, inactive in the face of such unbearable misery and did something to help this poor little girl.
Three months later Carter committed suicide, he was suffering depression.
Fact is, this is reality in our today’s world and it’s heartbreaking. The United Nations reports that about 19,000 children die every day around the world! Every day!
Every time I see anything like this I want to pack my stuff, leave my place, fly to the other side of the planet and do something to help, do something that matters, do something to feel less guilty that my life is so good.. and then I never go, never leave this comfortable live. Maybe I would if I was 10 years younger, if I wouldn’t have a child to care for on my own, if…
But I marvel at all the people who do with the utmost respect and admiration, the people who leave their ‘normal’ lives to help others in the most altruistic way. And were some of them maybe moved and affected in their decision by a picture like Carters’?